There is currently no reliable screening test for ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, most women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed with advanced-stage disease (Stage 3 or 4).
This is because the symptoms of ovarian cancer (particularly in the early stages) often are not acute or intense, and present vaguely. In most cases, ovarian cancer is not detected during routine pelvic exams, unless the doctor notes that the ovary is enlarged.
The sooner ovarian cancer is found and treated, the better a woman’s chance for recovery. It is important to know that early-stage symptoms are not silent – so women should be extra alert and watch out for early symptoms.
Potential symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:
- Bloated feeling
- Persistent swollen abdomen
- Trapped wind
- Pain or dragging sensation in your lower abdomen or side
- Vague indigestion or nausea
- Poor appetite and feeling full quickly
- Changes in your bowel or bladder habits. For example, constipation or needing to pass water urgently
- Abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding (rare)
Other symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:
- Upset stomach or heartburn
- Back pain
- Pain during sex
- Menstrual changes
The BEAT Ovarian Cancer Campaign is a simple acronym to highlight some of the main symptoms and focuses on knowing your body, knowing the signs and getting help at an early stage if you have any of the following for three weeks or more: